Students will find a survey in their mailboxes Monday which will ask their opinions about the struggling Loker Commons.
The survey will ask what students most frequently do at the commons, how they feel about the services and the food provided, and what they want changed.
"The purpose of the survey is to find out what the majority of students feel about some of the important issues at Loker," said Kathleen I. Kouril '82, the new consultant hired by the Dean of Students to help improve Loker Commons.
"We have anecdotal reports that some students are not satisfied with Loker the way it is," Kouril said. "I am trying to find out if the average Joe or Jane at Harvard feels the same way."
Since its opening more than a year ago, Loker Commons has been beset by financial and logistical problems. After losing money, the Commons restricted its hours.
In addition, a space originally set aside for a newsstand was used for beverage and snack machines. Two weeks ago, those machines were removed and replaced by a flower shop and book exchange.
The six-page survey asks 50 questions and takes ten minutes to fill out. "The reason the survey is so long is that we wanted to do this once, collect information about every aspect of Loker," said Kouril.
The survey will be distributed with a schedule of Loker events, according to Kouril. She said that every Monday there will be activities in the coffee house, such as meetings with faculty members. Harvard-Radcliffe Television (HRTV) will be shown every Tuesday. An entertainment extravaganza will take place on Wednesdays, at which the Kuumba Singers, the Opportunes, the Callbacks and the Hasty Pudding The atricals, among other groups, will perform.
Thursdays will be jazz and comedy night. On Friday nights, Loker will turn into a free nightclub, run by WHRB. Sunday nights will be devoted to first-years.
Kouril said that changes are already being made in Loker. "There are beautiful leather sofas coming. We have a pool table in storage. It depends on what students say in the survey. Right now it's not clear to the administration what the students want."
"I really think anything is possible at Loker Commons if the students want it," Kouril said, as long as "it's not something that endangers their health, if it's not something that endangers the University's reputation."
Many students interviewed said they do not visit Loker very often.
Rebecca U. Weiner '99 said she eats in Loker when she can't go back to Leverett House.
"I like the idea of a book shop and the copying machines," she said. "The dances and performances are more of a money loser for me. I don't go to them."
"Why should you pay for food when you can get in free upstairs?" said Nick P. Grandy '00, referring to Annenberg Hall, where first-years eat.
But even first-years agreed that if improvements were made, they might go more often.
One survey question asks students if student performances or art exhibitions would draw them to Loker more often.
"I don't know where to see [student art]. If it was at Loker, it would be really easy to see it," Rachel G. Nelson '00 said.
The survey also asks if students would like to have pool tables at Loker.
"Right now the nearest [recreational facility] is the Mac, which is a little distance," said Paul Hsu '00, who said he would like to see a billiard table in Loker.
And every student interviewed favored bringing fast-food chains to Loker. "Business would pick up if they put in name brands, just because you can't get it anywhere else [in Harvard Square]," said Grandy, although he added: "I think more wholesome meals would be better. They have a lot of greasy stuff."
Mbago M. Kaniki '00 and Marcela Correa '00 both said fast food would draw them to Loker. Correa said, "Some Taco Bell would be good. It would be the solution to Loker's problems."
But students had mixed reactions to survey questions about TV in Loker. Nelson said he would keep TVs out of Loker.
"People who are going to watch TV are going to watch it at home," he said. "TV would take away from studying."
But Grandy disagreed. "It's not supposed to be for studying. It's supposed to be a place for socializing."
Kaniki said he would like to see a separate viewing area--like the coffee house--rather than a noisy central TV.
Christine M. Haggerty '99 said Loker's giant screen was unnecessary. "I think they should get rid of the thing that sends the messages, and the big screen in the back."
Most students had suggestions to make Loker more popular. "If they had made it like a dorm common room with couches, people would go there if the common rooms were full," Hsu said.
Nelson suggested bringing in a jukebox.
Kouril said concerns like these can only be addressed if students respond to the survey. She stressed that the results will be processed quickly